To meet overseas consular workload demand, the U.S. Department of State supplements its career Consular Officers with Limited Non-Career Consular Professionals, including qualified Appointment Eligible Family Members (AEFMs) from all agencies under Chief of Mission authority.
The Consular Affairs-Appointment Eligible Family Member (CA-AEFM) Program, coordinated by the Bureaus of Global Talent Management (GTM) and Consular Affairs (CA), provides opportunities for AEFMs who are at least 21 years of age to fill entry-level Consular Officer positions at selected posts. Candidates must successfully pass the current Consular Professional Board of Examiners (BEX) assessment process used to qualify for a consular position. Once certified, CA-AEFMs are eligible to be hired and assigned to Consular Professional positions at the sponsoring employee’s assigned post.
- After passing the written and oral assessments and obtaining a Top Secret security clearance, medical, and suitability review panel clearance, CA-AEFMs will be placed on a hiring register managed by the Registrar in GTM/Talent Acquisition.
- Certification for the program does not expire; there is no time limit for CA-AEFMs to remain on the list of qualified candidates. Medical, security, and suitability review panel clearances must remain valid to stay on the CA-AEFM register. As candidates wait on the Register, they should email the Registrar’s office at firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm all clearances are valid or to reinitiate outdated clearances.
- AEFMs do not need to know the sponsoring employee’s onward assignment to apply for the program.
- CA and GTM will coordinate and select CA-AEFMs for consular positions based on service need at the sponsoring employee’s assigned post.
- CA will fund language and consular training, if required. Note that CA-AEFMs are eligible for language training only if their sponsoring employee is also assigned to language training at FSI or assigned to Washington, DC over the period of the required language training.
- In some cases, CA-AEFMs who are selected for an overseas position will be hired as part of an LNA orientation class held at FSI. In other cases, CA-AEFMs may be onboarded directly at post.
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
CA-AEFM Consular Program FAQs
The Consular Affairs – Appointment Eligible Family Member (CA-AEFM) program provides opportunities for AEFMs who are at least 21 years of age to fill entry-level Consular Professional positions at select posts. Below is a list of most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
- How do I apply?
- What documents do I need to submit with my application?
- What is the application deadline?
- What is the vacancy announcement number?
- The DS-1950 Application for Employment does not allow sufficient space to include all my professional experience information. How do I ensure that all my professional experience is appropriately captured in the application form?
- The DS-1950 (page 1) has the section “Describe your duties and accomplishments.” I have written a long paragraph that fills the allotted space. When I print the form, only half of what I typed is printed and the other half is missing. What should I do?
- Page one, block 24, indicates that I should “Sign In Ink,” whereas the section “Authorization to Furnish Information” at the bottom of page three does not specify if I should sign in ink or electronically. What do you prefer for page three?
- What is the minimum education requirement to apply for the program?
- I have earned several degrees. Do I need to submit them all? Do I need a transcript copy for each one of them?
- I was educated overseas and graduated from a foreign institution. Do I need to get my foreign diploma(s) or degree(s) evaluated?
- How do I prepare for the Board of Examiners (BEX) assessment?
- How do I register for the CA-AEFM online written test, administered through BEX?
- How long do I have to complete the online portion of the exam?
- How often does BEX schedule the written online test and oral assessments?
- How many times can I take the online test?
- I passed the online test. Now what?
- I passed the Foreign Service Oral Assessment and/or the CA/LNA Consular Fellow Oral Assessment and am on the respective registers. Do I also have to pass the CA-AEFM Oral Assessment?
- I heard the CA-AEFM Oral Assessment is now offered virtually. If I am stationed domestically, can I take it in person?
- I passed the Oral Assessment and am on the Register. Who is my HR point of contact until I become a fully certified CA-AEFM?
- Can my sponsoring employee, a Foreign Service direct hire employee, inform post that I am a CA-AEFM seeking a position at post?
- Can GTM provide an estimate of the BEX exam passing rate for family members? How many CA-AEFMs are currently employed?
- How long does it take to complete certification as a CA-AEFM from the time an applicant passes the Oral Assessment to the time CA identifies a position at the sponsoring employee’s overseas post?
- I’m a fully certified CA-AEFM on the Register, how do I get hired?
- I am a certified CA-AEFM on the Register. My sponsoring employee is bidding on an assignment overseas. How can I maximize my chance of being “matched” with a consular position at post? Can my sponsoring employee’s CDO speak to my CDO to make sure we are treated like a tandem couple?
- I am a fully certified CA-AEFM on the Register. What are my chances of being assigned to a consular position overseas?
- How are candidates prioritized for placement into consular positions?
- Will I increase my chances of being “matched” with my sponsoring employee if we bid on large posts?
- Can I do a temporary duty (TDY) mission at a post other than where my sponsoring employee is assigned? Can I stay at the post where I am working as a CA-AEFM after my sponsoring employee departs?
- Are there any language requirements for a CA-AEFM position?
- Are CA-AEFMs considered tandems for bidding purposes?
- Are there part-time positions as a CA-AEFM?
- Which allowances and benefits do CA-AEFMs receive?
- Which allowances and benefits do CA-AEFMs not receive?
- I’m in the CA-AEFM program on a Family Member Appointment with the Department of State. May I join the Foreign Service Family Reserve Corps (FSFRC)?
- I’m a fully certified CA-AEFM and on the Register. However, I’ve not been hired or appointed yet as a CA-AEFM. May I join the FSFRC?
See the [290 KB] for the CA-AEFM Consular Program.
The required documents are the DS-1950 application form and a copy of your diploma and/or transcripts or degrees proving that you have earned at least a high school diploma. You must also provide evidence that you are a U.S. citizen (sending a copy of the photo page of your passport is best), and the full name and current assignment of your sponsoring employee. Please do not submit any other documentation apart from what is listed in the vacancy announcement.
There is no application deadline for the CA-AEFM program.
5. The DS-1950 Application for Employment does not allow sufficient space to include all my professional experience information. How do I ensure that all my professional experience is appropriately captured in the application form?
Carefully read the instructions on the form. If your professional experience requires more work blocks than those provided on pages two and three, you may print as many copies of page two of the “Application For Employment” that are needed (but only one page three). Make sure you include your complete name and social security number on the top of each page of the application. Once completed, print out the entire application, sign the first page, and scan them as a compressed PDF.
6. The DS-1950 (page 1) has the section “Describe your duties and accomplishments.” I have written a long paragraph that fills the allotted space. When I print the form, only half of what I typed is printed and the other half is missing. What should I do?
Handwrite “See attached page” in the box where you want to provide additional information. Then attach a signed word document with the information that you want to include, being sure to include your complete name, social security number, date, and the position for which you are applying (CA-AEFM) and scan it with the rest of the application to complete the application package.
7. Page one, block 24, indicates that I should “Sign In Ink,” whereas the section “Authorization to Furnish Information” at the bottom of page three does not specify if I should sign in ink or electronically. What do you prefer for page three?
Print page one and sign in ink, as instructed. If your work experience can be contained within these three pages, type your signature electronically at the bottom of page three. However, if you have additional content that exceeds the allocated space print out additional pages and write “See attached page.” Finally, sign page three and any subsequent attached pages and scan all documents as one complete package.
Please provide a copy of at least a high school diploma (with an unofficial copy of your transcript) to meet the minimum education level requirement.
Please note that the undergraduate degree requirement was discontinued on April 12, 2017. A copy of your high school diploma is required at the minimum. If you have earned additional degrees (undergraduate or graduate), please submit a copy of your highest degree in lieu of your high school diploma.
If you were educated overseas, please submit a copy of your high school diploma with its transcript (an unofficial copy is acceptable).
You may submit a copy of a degree in higher education (e.g., bachelors, masters, Ph.D). However, you are required to obtain an evaluation of your foreign degree, since OPM defines accredited education as education above the high school level.
Board of Examiners (BEX) Exam
Check out the BEX study guide. The first step is an online test that has four components: General Knowledge, English Language Expression, Situational Judgment, and Understanding Regulations.
Once you submit your application to AEFM-CA@state.gov you will receive confirmation that you have the minimum qualifications to continue with the process. GTM/CDA will ask you for the name and Department of State email address of your proctor for the online test. The proctor must be a USDH Officer, Specialist or Civil Service Employee. Once you have provided the proctor information, GTM/CDA will send your application and proctor information to the BEX office and the BEX scheduler will contact your proctor (and you) directly to arrange the online test. Proctors must be unrelated U.S. Direct Hires. Employed family members are not acceptable proctors.
Once BEX contacts you and the proctor, you have one month to complete the written online exam.
BEX schedules both tests multiple times a week on a rolling basis.
If you fail the written online test, you must wait 12 months from the date that BEX received your application before you can take it again.
BEX will send you information on how to schedule the Oral Assessment. Oral assessments for CA-AEFM candidates are now conducted virtually. You will have 12 months to schedule the Oral Assessment from the time that you pass the written online test.
No, if you are currently on the FS generalist or CA/LNA language fellow register, you are exempt from the CA-AEFM Oral Assessment and can be added to the CA-AEFM register. BEX will verify that you are on the generalist register and will provide further instructions. If you have not passed the FS Oral Assessment but have passed the written online portion of the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT), you will need to take the written online portion of the CA-AEFM exam.
The Board of Examiners is permanently offering oral assessments remotely for all Foreign Service Specialist categories, including the Consular Professional Oral Assessments.
Your HR point of contact until you reach full certification is Registrar@state.gov. Please keep in mind that the process to obtain full certification takes between 6-12 months. Once you are fully certified, your point of contact is the CA-AEFM Coordinator, AEFM-CA@state.gov. The CA-AEFM coordinator cannot discuss potential assignments or hiring until you receive full certification.
- PN150 LNA Orientation Class (three weeks)
- PC530 Basic Consular Course (ConGen) (six weeks)
- MQ911 Security Overseas Seminar (two days) – required only once in a career
- CT650 Foreign Affairs Counter Threat (FACT) (if you haven’t taken FACT within the past six years) – FACT is included on the sponsoring employee’s PCS orders.
- Language Training (depending on the position’s language designation) – several weeks to several months. Note that CA-AEFMs are eligible for paid language training only if their sponsoring employee is also assigned to language training at FSI or assigned to Washington, DC, over the period of the required language training.
Training is mandatory and must be attended in full. If a position is language-designated, the CA-AEFM must reach the required level. CA-AEFMs fill entry level positions in the Consular Section on a full-time basis and therefore must be trained to the same level as any other Consular Officer. A current FSI language score, or valid ConGen certification (i.e., having taken ConGen or adjudicated within the past 5 years) may replace some training. In some cases, post and CA will approve a partial or full language waiver depending on the needs of service.
Finding a Position
No. Note that per 3 FAM 8326, an employee may not appoint, employ, promote, advance, assign, or advocate for appointment, employment, promotion, advancement, or assignment in or to a Department of State position, any individual who is a relative of that employee. Sponsoring employees of CA-AEFMs should therefore not be involved in the hiring or assignment process for CA-AEFMs.
Family members of U.S. direct hire employees serving at an embassy or consulate overseas pass the CA-AEFM written and oral assessments at a higher-than-average pass rate. The number of CA-AEFM candidates and employees varies from month to month. The Department is committed to providing employment and utilizing CA-AEFM hiring to meet staffing needs to the fullest extent possible based on CA’s service needs and the availability of CA-AEFM candidates and employees at overseas posts.
The length of the process depends on each applicant’s personal circumstances and may last from a couple of months to more than one year. After BEX confirms the applicant has passed the oral exam, a staff member will initiate the clearance request with Diplomatic Security (DS) and a clearance coordinator will contact you to assist in completing the SF-86 Questionnaire for Investigations Processing (e-QIP). The DS investigation depends on many factors beyond GTM’s control, and the time varies for each one to be completed. The applicant also needs to pass the suitability review panel and have a valid medical clearance for the onward post. Once these steps are complete and the CA-AEFM is fully certified and placed on the CA-AEFM Register, the CA-AEFM coordinator in Global Talent Management/Career Development and Assignments/Entry Level (GTM/CDA/EL) and the CA-AEFM candidate discuss the sponsoring employee’s current tour of duty and follow-on assignment (if known) to identify a suitable position for the CA-AEFM.
Consular Affairs and the Entry-Level Assignments Division review the needs of the service, available funding, timing of the sponsoring employee’s tour of duty, the candidate’s training history, language proficiency, and availability to take additional training at FSI, if required.
If all the above requirements are met, you will receive an offer from the Registrar’s office. Certified CA-AEFMs on the Register should reach out to AEFM-CA@state.gov to see if Entry Level Assignments (GTM/CDA/EL) can match you with a potential assignment.
5. I am a certified CA-AEFM on the Register. My sponsoring employee is bidding on an assignment overseas. How can I maximize my chance of being “matched” with a consular position at post? Can my sponsoring employee’s CDO speak to my CDO to make sure we are treated like a tandem couple?
CA-AEFMs are hired on a Family Member Appointment (FMA). You will be offered a position only after your sponsoring employee receives an assignment. The CA-AEFM’s assignment is derived from your sponsoring employee. The CA-AEFM coordinator works with you to identify a consular position at your sponsoring employee’s post. The employee’s CDO is welcome to discuss possible assignments with the CA-AEFM coordinator.
GTM/CDA and CA cannot guarantee a consular position overseas when you are a fully certified CA-AEFM, but GTM/CDA and CA will do their best to match you with a job during the tour of duty of your sponsoring employee.
Consular positions overseas are filled by Entry Level Officers and Consular Professional Limited Non-Career Appointments (LNAs). The LNA group includes Civil Service, Consular Fellows, and CA-AEFMs. Like the Civil Service candidates, CA-AEFMs know in advance of their position placement prior to being onboarded as a CA-AEFM. The Consular Fellows bid on available assignments in their language specialty during orientation.
Yes. GTM/CDA and CA will be able to place you more easily at your sponsoring employee’s post if you consider assignments with a large Consular Section because there is a statistically higher chance of a position being available.
CA-AEFMs may TDY as long as the sponsoring employee is currently permanently assigned and working at an overseas post. However, note the following:
- Before going TDY, we encourage CA-AEFMs to complete 52 weeks at post to be eligible for Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE), as service during a long-term TDY will not count toward NCE eligibility.
- CA-AEFMs may never TDY if their sponsoring employee is assigned to Washington, because they must resign their appointment if their sponsoring employee is no longer assigned overseas.
- CA-AEFMs cannot adjudicate domestically (e.g. TDY from post to do domestic passport adjudications).
- CA-AEFMs may not arrive at post before their sponsoring employee or depart post after their sponsoring employee has left. If your sponsoring employee goes on a TDY to another post, you may stay at the original post of assignment to work in the consular position as long as the host government, the Mission, CA, and GTM/CDA agree.
Most overseas Consular Professional positions require you to speak the local language at a high level of proficiency. If an overseas position is language-designated, the CA-AEFM must: 1) have a current FSI valid score in that language, or 2) be enrolled, or will be enrolled in language training to reach the language designation along with their sponsoring employee at FSI.
CA-AEFMs who are paneled to a language designated position and are in language training in Washington, DC, on their sponsoring employee’s orders receive their salary. However, Consular Affairs will not fund independent TDY orders for a CA-AEFM to attend language training. Therefore, the CA-AEFM should work closely with the CA-AEFM Coordinator to align language training with their sponsoring employee’s training period in Washington, DC.
Furthermore, CA-AEFMs are not eligible to participate in long term In-Country Language Training to reach the language designation because this program is available only to tenured, mid- and senior level FS employees.
A CA-AEFM is not considered part of a tandem for bidding purposes because CA-AEFMs serve on family member limited non-career appointments. A “tandem couple” is a career or career candidate Foreign Service employee whose spouse or same sex domestic partner (as defined in 3 FAM 1612) is a career or career candidate Foreign Service employee of one of the foreign affairs agencies.
No, a CA-AEFM is a full-time employee and must be either working at post, in required training in Washington, DC, or on approved leave status (such as annual leave, sick leave, or leave without pay).
CA-AEFMS qualify for the following allowances and benefits as applicable:
- Language Incentive Pay
- Danger Pay
- Federal Employee Health Benefits, Long-Term Care, and Flexible Spending Accounts
- Annual Leave
- Sick Leave
- Shared Voluntary Leave
- Premium Compensation
- Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS)
- Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)
- Non-Competitive Eligibility under
CA-AEFMs are hired on family member limited non-career appointments and are subject to the same regulations as all other EFMs on family member appointments.
As such, CA-AEFMs are not entitled to receive, in their own right as employees, any allowances, differentials, or other benefits (e.g., including but not limited to such allowances, differentials, and benefits as temporary lodging, living quarters, transfer, home service transfer, education, separate maintenance allowances, post allowance, post differential, advances of pay, home leave, and rest and recreation) unless specifically authorized in 3 FAM 8210, Family Member Appointments, or unless required by law.
Joining the Foreign Service Family Reserve Corps
While appointed to the CA-AEFM program, you cannot concurrently be a member of the FSFRC. However, if you do not intend to seek a position as a CA-AEFM at your onward post or if there is not a position available, you may apply and request conversion to the FSFRC after you complete your overseas tour of duty as a CA-AEFM. We recommend that you apply for the FSFRC 30 days prior to separating from your CA-AEFM appointment. CA-AEFMs should contact the CA-AEFM Coordinator in GTM/CDA/EL at AEFM-CA@state.gov for guidance. Do not apply for the FSFRC without first contacting the CA-AEFM Coordinator as they must provide you with documentation that is required at the time you submit your FSFRC application.
Yes, you may apply for FSFRC membership. The CA-AEFM certification grants you eligibility to be appointed and hired to a future LNA Orientation class, but that doesn’t prevent you from applying for or maintaining your current FSFRC membership. Family members who are certified CA-AEFMs but who have not yet been appointed are encouraged to apply for the FSFRC following the guidance on the FSFRC webpage.